Varicose veins are dilated veins due to the increase in the volume of blood inside them, which can often be recognised as lumps on the legs. When the valves weaken and are no longer able to close properly, the blood tends to flow back, i.e. to return downwards, causing the blood-lining to stagnate in the leg and making the vein swollen and bulging, thus more visible. This phenomenon is also known as “Venous Reflux”.
Heavy legs, swollen feet and ankles, night cramps and “restless legs syndrome”, appearance of capillaries and reticular veins, varicose veins, itch, burning sensation, skin discoloration, up to skin ulcerations that appear without any clear reason and take years to heal.
Capillaries and varicose veins of the lower limbs are often considered just an aesthetic issue but they’re more than that: they are a clear signal that "something is wrong" in the venous circulatory system.
Because they often show an accumulation of blood inside the vein, which therefore is not circulating properly. In normal conditions, in fact, the valves of the venous system counteract the force of gravity and prevent the blood from flowing downwards. Therefore, they are alarm bells of a deeper problem.
Men and women are roughly equally affected by chronic venous insufficiency, but it is women who contact the specialist more often, driven mainly by aesthetic reasons.
Regular physical activity (even walking half an hour a day), a balanced diet rich in vitamins and bioflavonoids, and the intake of specific food supplements (appropriately prescribed by the doctor) can improve the symptoms. Compression therapy (graduated compression elastic stockings) is an excellent aid that helps a lot to control the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. It should be noted, however, that, to date, there are no oral or topical treatments that are able to definitively solve the problem.
If the problem is diagnosed and treated in the most appropriate way, it resolves definitively. In other words, the varicose veins treated in the correct way do not return. It is true that in the past there was a high rate of recurrence; however, it was demonstrated that it was precisely the lack of customization of the “classical” surgical treatment that frequently resulted in the return of the problem in the same area.
In this case, it is the poor flow of blood to the legs and feet that causes the symptoms, and not its accumulation. We can speak of peripheral arterial insufficiency: a slow and insidious disease that affects the arteries of the legs and is due in most cases to atherosclerosis.
It is a disease that predominantly affects people over 65yo and is characterized by the formation of plaques inside the vessels with a consequent reduction in the amount of blood that can flow through them.
Atherosclerosis is a process that involves all the arteries of the body, although some body parts are often more affected than others, depending on each individuals’ characteristics. The most frequently affected areas are the arteries that carry blood to the brain, the arteries of the legs and the abdominal aorta.
You should contact the specialist as soon as possible for a precise diagnosis (through a visit and a diagnostic exam) and to be able to benefit from the most appropriate treatment.
The risk increases in the presence of obesity, smoking, hypertension, prediabetes, diabetes, advanced age, hyperlipidemia, hyperfibrinogemia. Therefore, lifestyles that help are the abolition of smoking, the moderation of alcohol and the dietary correction of dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, hypertension and overweight.
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